Redlining in DSM

Urban Renewal and Freeway Construction

By the 1950s, Des Moines was almost 100% segregated. The African American population was confined to redlined neighborhoods which continued to see disinvestment. Around the early 1960s, 2 federal programs, Urban Renewal and the Interstate system were beginning to take effect around the country. Across Iowa, especially in the City of Des Moines, we see these two programs significantly disrupt and impact the African American community. Thousands of households were displaced and discriminated against in both the eminent domain and resettlement processes. 

1950 segregatation
1950 segregatation

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freeway
freeway

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Construction of one of the original bridges on I-35_80 Southwest of Des Moines,1958
Construction of one of the original bridges on I-35_80 Southwest of Des Moines,1958

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1950 segregatation
1950 segregatation

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The History of Center Street

Center street was an African American neighborhood that grew into a cultural and economic epicenter by the late 1920s. It was blocks of black-owned businesses, most notably multiple social and jazz clubs which brought famous musicians from across the country to Des Moines. Most of the black economic, social, and cultural life on Center Street was lost when the interstate and Urban Renewal came through in the 1960s and 1970s.  An area that had once served and supported the black community was bulldozed without a second thought.

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Historical
Policies to Remember